Wesley Sykes

Wesley Sykes

Tuesday, March 17, will forever be the day salt was thrown on the collective wound of New England Patriots fans.

Across the state, residents have been hunkered down at home and schools have temporarily closed, as have many businesses. Roads were desolate, schools almost entirely empty, and the dreary weather mirrored the feelings of many amid concern of the coronavirus outbreak.

And that was before Tom Brady shared a post across all his social media platforms thanking the New England Patriots while informing the public that he’d no longer be playing on the team where he’d won six Super Bowl rings.

While sad to know things will never be the same at 1 Patriot Place— particularly for this sports writer, who’s only known TB12 as the quarterback in New England — there’s happiness in memories created over the last 20 years. Think about that for a second. Twenty years. Twenty freakin’ years. You don’t need a Ph.D. in Einstein’s theory of relativity to know that’s a long period of time. There are people who were finishing up school when Brady first took the field on September 23, 2001, and are now preparing to send their children, whom they’ve shared in the joys Brady has brought, off to college. A generation of fans has grown up being told oral histories of his comeback in the famed Snow Bowl as bedtime stories only to witness Brady’s greatness firsthand.

I was a husky, braces-faced preteen at the start of his tenure under center and graduated college, covered the NFL in the nation’s top media market and got married by the end. And through it all, Brady was there—a beacon of success and a model of consistency.

In the science experiment that is life, with the ever-changing variables that come with it, Brady has been the constant.

From running out of the tunnel to Jay-Z’s ‘Public Service Announcement’ to every cry of ‘Let’s go!’ between plays to, most recently, sharing another side of him with his social media presence, he’s been the embodiment of Bill Belichick’s favorite ability: reliability. And that’s what I’m most thankful for over the last two decades. It’s not the Super Bowls, though I wouldn’t trade those for anything. It’s not the bragging rights that have been the party favors of rooting for the Patriots.

It’s turning on my television to the Patriots broadcast every Sunday and knowing that I will be entertained for the next three-plus hours. And, yes, that entertainment typically resulted in wins. A lot of them. I mean, the guy won 77 percent of his games. I may still consider myself young, but I’m old enough to know that there aren’t many things in this life that bring that much happiness (or disdain, depending on where your allegiances lie) to a group of people.

And that’s what I’ll miss most about Tom Brady.

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